Editor’s note: Another year, another legislative session, another stack of school-choice bills in Florida. Here’s a roundup of choice legislation that lawmakers will consider in the annual session that begins today.
SB 1076 by Sen. John Legg, R-Lutz. Expands the “Career and Professional Education Act (CAPE),” revising requirements for high school graduation and accelerated high school graduation, and allowing students to earn and substitute certain industry certifications for certain course credits. Also requires districts to make digital materials available to students and to use the Postsecondary Industry Certification Funding List in determining annual performance funding distributions to school districts and Florida College System institutions, etc.
HB 373 by Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando. Provides that a contract for a charter school employee or service provider may not extend beyond the school’s charter contract, and that the employee or service provider is not entitled to compensation after the school’s closure. (Identical to SB 780 by Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando.)
HB 453 by Rep. Victor Torres, D-Orlando. Requires the compensation and salary schedules for charter school employees to be based on school district schedules. (Identical to SB 784- Charter Schools by Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando.)
SB 744 by Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs. Requires charter school applications to demonstrate the applicant is financially qualified to open and maintain a high-quality charter school, requires the charter to set forth detailed reporting of the financial operations of the school to ensure employees are not paid unreasonable compensation, and requires that the term of the charter must provide for cancellation of the charter if the school becomes insolvent, fails to provide a quality education, or does not comply with applicable law. The bill also clarifies that a charter school system shall be designated a LEA solely for the purpose of receiving federal funds if certain criteria are met.
SB 828 by Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah. Grants school districts the ad valorem tax exemption given to charter schools, and restricts the use of capital outlay funds for property improvements if the property is exempt from ad valorem taxes. It restricts charter schools or technical career centers having financial problems from certain activities, and grants flexibility to high-performing school choice districts.
HB 1001 by Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, D-Maitland. Prohibits charter schools from requiring, soliciting, or accepting certain student information before student’s enrollment or attendance. Also requires charter schools to submit attendance plans to the school district for students enrolled in school; provide funding to the school district in event of student transfers; and report to the school district certain student enrollment and wait-list information.
SB 1092 by Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando. Requires charter school to submit attendance information for each student to the school district, and requires the charter school to provide a prorated portion of per-student funding to the school district if a student transfers to another public school in the school district before the last day of the school year.
SB 1164 by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland. Revises the eligibility criteria for extracurricular activities to include students in charter schools, and revises the criteria for bylaws, policies, or guidelines adopted by the Florida High School Athletic Association. (Compare to HB 1279 by Rep. Larry Metz, R-Groveland.)